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At Sharjah, October 19, 20, 21, 22, 2002. Australia won by an innings and 20 runs. Toss: Australia.
This was a triumphant match for the Australians, collectively and individually. Pakistan were again comprehensively beaten, only just dragging the game into a fourth day; Glenn McGrath became the eighth man in Test history to reach 400 wickets; and Steve Waugh achieved redemption by hitting a thrilling century.
After the early finish to the Second Test, the Australians tried to have this match brought forward, but it did not suit the TV broadcasters, so they were kept in the heat of Sharjah a few days longer. However, the referee, Clive Lloyd, did agree to a loosening of the usual over-rate requirements and to extra drinks breaks, during which players could return to the dressing-rooms. Waugh had complained that "When the temperature is 51°C and the humidity is high, you shouldn't even be outside, let alone playing sport."
As temperatures rose, tempers frayed. Pakistan's coach, Richard Pybus, ruffled Australian feathers by suggesting that all was "not well" within the camp, and that Waugh's team was "at the end of an era". The second statement had some merit but might have been better timed, given Pakistan's capitulation in the Second Test. "If I was him," retorted Allan Border, an Australian selector, "I'd be keeping my mouth shut. Let's see if they can score 60 next time they bat. Most second-grade sides could do better than his national side."
Ultimately, Australia would make Pybus cringe. After lining up for a minute's silence to commemorate the victims of the Bali terrorist bombing - in which many Australian tourists died - a week earlier, they were straight to work - and on their way to 444. Hayden launched into his favourite slog-sweeps from the outset, and it took a brilliant catch at bat-pad to deny him a hundred. While Hayden made light of the conditions, Ponting battled heat exhaustion during another brilliant century. Despite having to put on an ice vest at each drinks break - and suffering a gashed jaw from a Mohammad Sami bouncer, when he was wearing only the baggy green because his helmet was too hot - he remained in charge during a chanceless 150, dancing down the track to the spinners and punishing a pace attack diluted by a back injury to Shoaib Akhtar. Meanwhile, Mark Waugh's dismissal for 23, stumbling forward and caught behind off Saqlain Mushtaq, would prove to be the ungainly last chapter of a graceful Test career.
His twin brother was another matter. Beginning the second day on 33, he crawled along until it looked as though he would run out of partners in search of a momentous century. He was on 82 when Australia's last man, McGrath, trudged through the gate. Steve Waugh was not about to dither. He promptly smashed 20 off one Danish Kaneria over, slogging consecutive sixes to leg and punching the air, head bowed, before raising his bat to celebrate his first century in 12 Tests.
In reply, Pakistan soon fell under Warne's spell again. He mesmerised batsmen and took five wickets with his combination of sharp spin and disguised straighter balls. McGrath grabbed four, the last of which was his 400th in Tests - and 650th in first-class cricket. Having pinned Waqar Younis in front, he raised the ball to the crowd in celebration. Pakistan fell for 221 and the match seemed destined for another vastly abbreviated finish.
Following on, the Pakistanis were teetering at 176 for eight when bad light and the stubbornness of Hasan Raza, who had hit his second half-century of the match, halted the Australian charge. But victory next morning was a formality. Not many captains complete a whitewash away from home and hold on to their place by the skin of their teeth. That Steve Waugh did says something about the dominance of this Australian side.
Man of the Match: S. K. Warne. Man of the Series: S. K. Warne.
Close of play: First day, Australia 298-3 (Ponting 142, S. R. Waugh 33); Second day, Pakistan 163-6 (Hasan Raza 37, Saqlain Mushtaq 27); Third day, Pakistan 176-8 (Hasan Raza 56, Mohammad Sami 12).